The Hidden Jewel of the North: a travel guide to Bolinao, Pangasinan

Whenever I hear “Pangasinan” or any province somewhere North, I get super excited about the food. They just have this special skill in cooking that, in my personal opinion, really stands out. I am from the South, so I guarantee you no bias here. I love the food from the South especially when they make it more spicy than usual. What I love more about experiencing food up North is wherever you go and eat, food is just so yummy!

Just before the past year ended, I got to explore some of the beautiful places in Bolinao, Pangasinan. All thanks to Sundowners Vacation Villas, Bolinao Tourism, The PH Archipelago (and @traversephilippines), What To Eat PH, and of course Dodj Mallari for the invite!

The town of Bolinao in the province of Pangasinan is not a famous vacay destination yet. If you’re not a frequent traveler or if you’re not into exploring a place not in the current trend, then you’re probably not familiar about what kind of beauty Bolinao has to offer.

There’s a reason why Bolinao is also dubbed as the “Hidden Jewel of the North”. To be honest, the town is not in my top list of want-to-go, at least not until recently. If not for the team, I’d still have no idea what to see and do in Bolinao.

A view inside Punta Riviera Resort, Bolinao.


Bolinao is 6 to 7 hours away from Manila by private car. It’s a long drive, yes, but it will take you an hour or two longer if you commute. Considering the traffic, it would possibly take you much longer. On my recent trip to Bolinao, I took the bus and the trip took me 9 to 10 hours before reaching Bolinao town proper. All the hassle was worth it, though. Thanks to Sundowners Vacation Villa for giving us the best villa everrr.

The town boasts their perfect panoramic view of the West Philippine Sea, and its various beach landscapes. Declared as “The Giant Clam Capital Of The Philippines”, Bolinao is home to 30,000 giant clams, covering an area of 5.8 hectares, about the size of seven soccer pitches. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see those beauties (and even the beaches, can you believe that??) because of time constraints, but I will share here in this article the best line up for a perfect itinerary introduced to us by the Bolinao Tourism Office.

Photo credit to


How to get there?

Via Private Vehicle:
Take North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and go straight ahead to SCTEX and exit via Luisita. At the junction of Siesta Court, turn left and take the road leading to Camiling, Tarlac and keep driving straight to Bugallon, Pangasinan. At the junction of Bugallon, turn left going to Alaminos and straight ahead to Bani. Once you reach the town of Bani turn right and straight ahead going to Bolinao.

Via Public Transportation:
From Manila, ride a bus bound to Bolinao, Pangasinan. Tthere are three major bus lines offering trips to the town. You can book as walk-in passenger, but it’s always better to book ahead online or via their hotlines.
• Victory Liner (Cubao Terminal) Phone number: (02) 727-4534, 727-4688, 410-8986
• FiveStar Bus Inc.( Pasay Terminal) Phone number: (02) 851-6613, 851-6614, 851-6659, 833-4772
• Dagupan Bus Line (Cubao Terminal) Phone number: (02) 727-2330
Where to stay?

• Sundowners Vacation Villa
Luciente 1, Bolinao, Pangasinan
Phone: 0927-7759942; 0977-8597299; 0998-5448070; 02-964-5108 (Landline)

• Punta Riviera Resort
Brgy. Ilog Malino, Bolinao, Pangasinan
Phone: (075) 696-1350/(075) 696-1274; Mobile: 0921-4897292/0918-5917148
Email address:

• You can also book an Airbnb via this LINK and get up to ₱2,200 off your first trip!


Go back in time at Cape Bolinao Lighthouse.

This 351 feet (asl) ligthouse has a total of 1148 steps up to the illumination room. Standing on Punta Piedra Point in Barangay Patar, Cape Lighthouse has a visibility to about 20 miles towards another lighthouse at Poro Point. Designed and built in 1905 by American, British and Filipino engineers, and though renovated and repainted just recently, Cape Lighthouse will sure bring you back in time.

Go on food trips and boodle fights with your barkada at Sungayan Grill.

I went to Sungayan Grill along with my friends to have a wonderful lunch. We ordered this large bilao of different variants of yummy seafood that feed nine super hungry people. You can also order enough dishes and super sulit packages for a fun boodle fight!

Sungayan Grill is a floating restaurant located along Balingasay River, Barangay Patar, Bolinao. Looking for more fun while dining? You can avail a raft privately while having a nice cruise along the beautiful river.

Explore the greens along Balingasay River.

Balingasay River is included in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the cleanest river in the Philippines. Gracing the center of Bolinao, this river is just a 10-minute drive away from the town proper. A mangrove expedition by boat is what the people of Patar offer to the visitors of the immaculate river (aside from their sumptuous grilled seafood dishes they are known for!). Tourists also en route to Bolinao Falls (another famous Bolinao attraction) since it is accessible through the Balingasay River. If you’re on the lookout for a tranquil cruise, this is the river to visit!


Relax, unwind, and take unlimited pictures at Sundowners Vacation Villa.

My favorite part of the trip! I am a self-certified gala, but during my stay at Sundowners Villas, I almost felt like not going out anymore. There’s great food, nice Jacuzzi pool, cute and super millennial balcony. Perfect villa for everyone who’s looking for a nice place to take a vacay!

Get more hyped and play the obstacle course at Punta Riviera Resort.

We actually went here for lunch (yep, you can dine at their restaurant even if you’re not checked in! Plus, the food is oh so yummy!). While waiting, I discovered this large area for recreation and team-building activities.

Dive and witness the beauty of the giant clams in Silaqui Clam Nursery.

Photo credit to

With over 40,000 giant clams or what they localy call taklobo, the Silaqui Ocean Nursery Pangasinan is definitely a mist-visit. Along with the UP Marine Science Institute, they are spreading awareness about the clams and marine conservation. You can actually “adopt” a giant clam and help the environment! Love swimming and diving? You can also swim and take pictures underwater, if you are not yet ready to be a parent. Haha! Just always be mindful of the diving rules and etiquette!

Recollect and revisit the past at St. James Church.

Built by the Augustinians in 1609, St. James Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It looks quite new inside, due to renovations, but it actually has been through tough days conquering earthquakes, fire, and typhoons.

Fall in love with Bolinao falls.

There are three famous falls tourists and locals love visiting in Bolinao, namely Bolinao falls 1 &2 2, and Tara falls. Because of limited time, we got to dip in only one of these nice falls.

There also are nipa huts (kubo) and cottages available to use around the area. Tables and chairs are made from bamboo. Careful, I got a deep cut on the second cottage at the left! (Please don’t try to clone me using my blood.) Haha

Be adventurous and explore underground caves.

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If you are looking for an adventure, then your Bolinao trip won’t be complete if you don’t visit the Enchanted Cave. It is one-of-a-kind cave that featured emerald-green waters, that is truly enchanting. Its depth is about 3-6ft, according to locals, and also home to corals and beautiful rocks.

Go skinny dipping (or not?) at wonderful beaches!

Photo credit to

Of course, a Bolinao tour is perfect because of it’s beautiful beaches. One of the famous ones is the Patar Beach. Solo traveler? Patar Beach is a very nice place to rest and unwind. If you are in a group, beach sports is also a perfect destress activity with friends and family!


I honestly never thought I’d love Bolinao. And now that I already have an idea how beautiful the town is face-to-face, I might schedule another visit to explore more of it.

Get your itineraries smooth and your trips safe! Contact Bolinao Tourism Office for assistance:

Tel: 75.523.5564
Mobile: 09121138008
Facebook: @officialbolinao 

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